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The Demographics of Guilds

And finally, I asked respondents how happy they were with their guilds. Unsurprisingly, most players were very happy or extremely happy with their guilds (which they had previously noted they had a strong affiliation with). Female players were much more likely to be extremely happy with their guild than male players. This is consistent with trends we've seen elsewhere where female players tend to be happier with the game in general and less likely to quit in the near term.


Tags: guilds (11)
Posted on October 9, 2008 | Comments (27) | TrackBack (0)


On some of your graphs you have male represented by blue and female by green, but on others you reverse the colours. There is at least one point in the article where you use different colours on the same page, which caused me to read the results incorrectly.

I can understand that you might not want to use stereotypical colours, but shouldn't you at least keep them consistent?

BTW, I love reading your research.

Posted by: mkl on October 9, 2008 10:16 PM

Woops - Totally unintentional. It's because that first graph had to be plotted from a slice of the data that was processed differently. I'll go change that first graph.

Posted by: Nick Yee on October 9, 2008 10:44 PM

In the first graph, it strikes me that 23% of respondents have made their own guild, which doesn't seem to reflect proportionally the percentage of guild leaders in any given game. My guess is that the results are skewed due to the fact that perhaps guild leaders would be more interested to read about the sociology of guilds and would hence be more likely to come across your research and participate in the polls. Do you apply any technique of correcting the results, such as weighted variables?

Posted by: Sheyd on October 9, 2008 11:16 PM

Sheyd - Guild creators are simply the group of people who helped create the guild. They do not necessarily become the guild leader. And thus, if a group of 10 friends decided to make a guild together, they would all consider themselves to have "created" that guild. In this light, the distribution makes a little more sense. Guilds typically arise from a small group of friends who want a more persistent communication channel.

I don't weigh variables or try to do any correction because we don't know the true distributions of most things in MMOs.

Posted by: Nick Yee on October 9, 2008 11:26 PM

I always love to read the research here, because as a 6 time guild leader, I like the philsophical and socialogical aspects of mmo's.

This is always interesting stuff.

Posted by: Craig M. Rosenblum on October 10, 2008 1:17 AM

I have been playing mmo's almost from when EQ went live, and have seen my share of guilds. The one question that I would like to know is for those guilds that start in one game and then migrate to another (or many more) how and why does the guild dynamic change? The one guild that I was in in EQ1 all went over to EQ2 when it was released, and promptly disbanded after about 3 months. The same people were in the guild, with the same "ranks" (the guild leader was the same in both games). Just from the messages that I was able to access (mainly on the guild web pages), there was a lot of arguing going on that never happened back in EQ1. Is there a cause for this that could be studied? Or a reason why some guilds can exist in multiple mmo's?

Posted by: Scott H on October 10, 2008 4:52 AM

great stuff! the only thing i would add would be some kind of consideration in the future for guilds that people have been in over their gaming "career" so to speak. for example, i started out in a small, casual guild. then i raided in a mid-level guild, then switched servers to raid in a top-end guild, and since i burned out, i've returned to my mid-level raiding guild which is now casual. i understand that most people are not going to switch around that much if they're casual all the time and happy with their guilds, but i think that some of that complexity that comes out with looking at these issues over time would be really interesting. you could even do a set of the same questions starting with the guild you're in now, how long you were in it, etc etc. then switch to the last guild you were in before this one, and on and on. just my two cents.

Posted by: finland on October 10, 2008 5:44 AM

I'm still EQ'ing after 9 years, and what I'm seeing now (and much more powerfully than ever before) is that those who leave our guild are no longer doing so to go from second-tier high end to first-tier high end raiding; they're retiring from EQ or, rarely, retiring from raiding totally. Further, almost none of the retirees is going to another MMO.

I think we old-school EQ'ers are just tired, period, of MMOs for a while.

Posted by: Mari Bonomi on October 10, 2008 7:08 AM

Our guild is 9 years old, and I often run into other guilds that have been around a while so why limit time in guild to two years?

Posted by: R on October 10, 2008 7:21 AM

Hey one other category I think could be added regarding how a guild was joined, and I think it may be one that becomes more popular over time.

I sought out a guild based on raiding times and average age. I then applied and was accepted. I think this approach will become quite popular.


Posted by: Symm on October 10, 2008 5:21 PM

Just thought I'd comment because the reason I joined my current guild isn't listed on the graph. As a Hawaii resident, raiding can be difficult due to time zone differences. That is, a North American guild generally starts its raids too early to include me (likely before I even get home from work).
Therefore, I sought out my current guild (one that casters to Hawaii residents) and asked if I could join. I specifically transfered to a new server so I could do so.

Posted by: Charles on October 10, 2008 5:43 PM

In response to Symm and Charles - In the coding of the responses, players who researched guilds (for any criteria) and then asked to join that guild (regardless of whether there was any formal application process) were coded under the "Asked to Join" category.

Posted by: Nick Yee on October 10, 2008 6:06 PM

I have different characters in various guilds, and I joined the guilds mainly to get information on quests and zones, then enjoyed the fellowship and grouping with guildies, and then being included in the raids. Some of my guilds have "no begging" and "donate some of your time to helping newbies" rules, and I am 100% for such rules.

Posted by: Miami Joe on October 10, 2008 7:13 PM

My MMO's have been Ultima Online, EverQuest and World of Warcraft.
I am surprised that the average guild is 38.9 people.
I started a guild in EQ, then moved to WoW where I started a guild. Both have a required minimum age of 25 years old. Both had/have over 100 members. (not alts)

Posted by: Bikutanda of Nazgrel on October 10, 2008 8:44 PM

One demographic I did not see is a group that has moved from guild to guild together.

I was in a guild that folded, moved with about a half dozen others to another. Later that Guild leader quit and disbanded causing us to move yet again.

Technicly we have only been with our current guild for a couple of months, but as a group we have been together for about 3 years.

Just not sure if a "moving group" would show up in your research.

Posted by: Dechion on October 11, 2008 3:13 AM

Were you thinking about doing comparisons by combining data from several of these questions? I think it would be interesting to compare the length of time a player has spent with a guild to some of the other questions you asked in this survey. In my experience, there has been a strong connection between the way in which people join a guild (type of recruitment, who they know in the guild in real life) and how long people ultimately stay with the guild. My guild, a small but longstanding guild, limits our recruitment methods in order to gain members who stay with the guild longer, or are happier with the guild. You may see a relationship between how happy people are with their guild and how they were recruited.

I would also like to find out how happy people are with their guild relative to play style of the guild (raiding, casual, or even hours raiding/played per week, if you have that data). I think it is a misconception by small-guild gamers that large-guild gamers must play more hours, though it may be true that large-guild gamers play more regular hours (at specific times). Have you asked people about whether they log in at a certain days of the week, certain times every day, or play for the same amount of time regularly when they play? I would be interested in comparing the schedule people play on or quantity of raiding to how happy people are with their guild or their game in general.

Posted by: Jeff M. on October 11, 2008 10:26 AM

I am rather skeptical about the reliability of this research. I am working in gaming business and have been doing gaming research for over 10 years by now. What seems to be missing in this particular research is the reflection of a tendency to host own "employment" trials/applications through websites that majority of the guilds do these days (unless you keep guild for the alts and bank), as well as the main reason for recruiting players being a lack of specific class in the guild. From my experience, RL relations have very little to do with guild membership, when gear/correct class character has everything to do with it - it is very obvious if you actually do qualitative research and analyze guild recruitment forums/acceptances.

Posted by: nwnt on October 11, 2008 10:46 AM

nwnt - Your model is certainly true of mid-tier and high-end raiding guilds who are trying to optimize raids, but there are many social/casual guilds out there who don't have an official application process. The accessible evidence is the great number of people who advertise for new or casual guilds in general/trade channels in WoW. Also, given that a large number of players play with someone they know in RL, it makes sense that those RL social connections play a role in guild affiliations.

Also, note that it is only the more serious and dedicated guilds who make their own websites. If you try to understand guilds based only on the websites that are out there, then your assessment is skewed towards serious raiding guilds, which may not be representative of guilds in general.

More formal research we've done with a randomly selected sample of WoW players also reflects this diversity. I'm not saying it's always due to RL connections. I'm saying that the majority of players did not use a formal application process (based on gear/class/competence) to get into their guilds. We found that 60% of respondents classified their guild as a social guild and 35% of respondents classified their guild as a raiding guild.

See also: this journal article.

Posted by: Nick Yee on October 11, 2008 11:54 AM

As a guildmaster of a a guild that has lasted 13 years and several MMORPG's, I certainly enjoy reading these articles. I think this one was spot on in regard to providing a broad overview to mmorpg guilds.

Some key points are that they tend to be 50 or less in size, mostly casual, and they try to join guilds where they have friends. On a related note, guilds themselves are a gaming retention mechanism. Unfortunately most games only give guilds the bare basics to function in a game, and few game mechanics where they can actually help their members. That's why guilds generally leave games as a whole unit once they decide whether or not a game is meeting their needs and expectations.

Good read!

Lord Hades
Guildmaster, LotD

Posted by: Hades-LotD on October 13, 2008 10:31 AM

I also must comment on the colours... I would prefer to see blue/red or blue/orange or green/red or green/orange because there are those strange few among us who are blue/green spectrum colour blind and some are red/orange spectrum colour blind.

Thanks for taking it into consideration. :-D

Posted by: Kat on October 13, 2008 11:46 AM

I think an even more fascinating conclusion to draw from your last graphic is that women are thee times more likely to be very unhappy with their guild.

Posted by: EZ on October 13, 2008 2:26 PM

I would venture a guess that one reason that some women are more likely to be unhappy is that they've encountered some gender politics. Some guilds are filled with members who don't care if you're female, others have a few members who think it is awesome and others have guys who brood over the unfairness of the female players being treated differently (and create drama for the individuals because of this). If the women involved are mothers, girlfriends, wives, etc they may also be unhappy if they are unable to be as involved as they'd like because of time/responsibility conflicts. Aside from those factors I'm not sure that there would be other reasons for a gender difference in happiness within a guild.

Posted by: Kat on November 15, 2008 9:37 AM

One aspect of MMORPGs that I've not yet seen much research on is a demographic comparison of 'gamers' and 'role-players'. Within World of Warcraft, even on a roleplaying realm (which has additional policies requiring suitable RP behaviour), there is a high percentage of players who have no interest in roleplaying.

The roleplaying guilds on my realm seem to be clearly out-numbered by the non-roleplaying / raiding guilds. Perhaps because of this, the role-players on my realm form a fairly close-knit community spanning several guilds amongst both the Alliance and Horde sides. I'd be interested to know if there are any clear trends with respect to age, gender, hours played per week and number of characters played when comparing the 'gamers' and the 'role-players'.

Posted by: Nixbits on November 21, 2008 7:12 AM

It seems odd that most of the respondants said it was a guild they created themselves... could this be because of the number of bank guilds in some of the games?

Posted by: Rach on November 28, 2008 8:27 AM

Very interesting set of data. it would be interesting to see how guilds compare to a person's preference of work selection, especially in the area of how people gain access to guilds compared to how people gain access to a fulfilling job.

for instance, many guilds require some form or another of application to join. They ask for experience, references from players in the guild, class, professions, how well you work with others in team settings, etc. Networking (idea that jobs, or in this case, guilds) becomes essential in finding guilds of your choosing, similar to a vast, real-life social network.

Posted by: Alex aka Sphynx on February 7, 2009 5:53 PM

edit: after reading more of the comments by others, it does seem that were coming to the same synopsis of the guild/career comparison.

Posted by: Alex aka Sphynx on February 7, 2009 6:00 PM

In awe of that aneswr! Really cool!

Posted by: Keesha on January 3, 2012 6:40 AM
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